October 16, 2006

June-July Stereotype of the Month loser

The loser:  "Zagar" ads show Indian sacrificing animals, shooting people

Dishonorable mention:  YouTube videos show models with feathers, face paint, bones


The Local Crank said...

Shorter Dishonorable Mention: the damn Indians are stealing the land back from us!!!!

Rob said...

Are you being sarcastic, o cranky one? In most cases, Indians are buying back the land. That is, the land they owned before we took it from them. I don't see anything wrong with that.

The Local Crank said...

"Are you being sarcastic, o cranky one?"

I was being extremely sarcastic, yes. Sorry, I realize that sarcasm doesn't always translate smoothly across the interwebs. I should have been explicit in stating that I was summarizing Elaine Willman's arguments in my usual smart-assed manner.

Rob said...

Re "a dichotomy between what people believe they are and what they really are": Whether it's an actual Indian or a representation of Steve's id, it's still an Indian acting like a savage. If Anheuser-Busch wanted to portray Steve's real self accurately, it should've used a primitive Caucasian--e.g., a caveman. Choosing an Indian to represent savagery, for whatever reason, is stereotypical.

Rob said...

Re "the origins of human ritualized violence and male-bonding behavior could not be indicated otherwise": As I said, a primitive Caucasian caveman could've represented these origins. Or a primitive African "spearchucker." Using a primitive Amazonian Indian was a conscious and arbitrary choice.

The commercials could've represented humanity's dark side in other ways, too. Think of a Viking or a Hun or a Mongol, if you want a well-known historical barbarian. Or a conquistador, a Nazi, or a jihadist, if you want to get into the barbarism of military conquest. Or the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the fictional realm. In short, Anheuser-Busch could've made the same point in many ways. Using a primitive Amazonian Indian was absolutely not the only choice.

Moreover, you're stretching to find an anthropological significance that isn't necessarily there. What is there is pretty simple. Ignorant Indian savage knows nothing about Western ways, but a Bud Light is enough to civilize him. Period.

Rob said...

Okay, the ads express that "modern American men and Amazonian tribal men are contemporaries in this time period." And I'm expressing that that's an arbitrary and unnecessary choice to convey the commercial's message. The beer could've civilized a barbaric ancestor as easily as it civilizes a "savage" contemporary.

Furthermore, even if we accept your premise, the ads are still stereotypical. A lot of Amazonian Indians have become Christians, are wearing Western clothes and living in Western homes, and have gotten jobs on farms or in mines. Choosing one of the few Amazonian Indians who is still in his natural state is a stereotypical choice.

And even if you accept this premise, it's still stereotypical. I don't know the statistics, but I'm betting the majority of Amazonian Indians still in their natural state are peaceful rather than warlike. Choosing one of the very few Amazonian Indians still in his natural state who happens to be warlike is the most arbitrary of arbitrary choices.

Let's sum it up: The ads are wrong to use an Indian rather than some other "primitive" person. They're wrong to use an uncivilized Indian rather than a civilized one. And they're wrong to use a warlike Indian rather than a peaceful one. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

All clear?